World Chocolate Day
We have good news for the chocolate lovers out there this World Chocolate Day. Did you know that you can love your chocolate and love your gut at the same time?
Love Your Chocolate and Love Your Gut
But not all chocolate is created equal. It’s time to join the dark side…!
Dark chocolate (look for those labelled 70% cocoa or higher) could provide some tasty health benefits. Further research is needed but current studies indicate that dark chocolate has been associated with lowering blood pressure1, reduced risk of diabetes2 and maintained brain function3 . Whilst the exact content varies, high-cocoa dark chocolate can contain nutrients such as fibre, iron and magnesium as well as the antioxidant polyphenol4. And our gut bugs love polyphenols!
Darker chocolate = Higher cocoa content = More polyphenols = Happier gut
Polyphenols are found in lots of bright food such as fruits and vegetables. In fact, it’s what provides their colour. It’s also in herbs, seeds, coffee, tea, red wine and cocoa (hello dark chocolate!). They act as antioxidants to hunt down “free radicals,” which are waste products in our body linked to poor health outcomes5.
Polyphenols are also good news for our gut and digestion. It seems to be a two way relationship as polyphenols may help the gut function well, whilst the gut can help polyphenols to work effectively6,7. Our gut bugs help to break down polyphenols into useful compounds which can then help with digestion. The chocolatey goodness of cocoa can also help grow “good” bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium whilst reducing the “bad” bacteria5,8.
Before you recreate Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory in your home, remember the famous saying: everything in moderation. It’s obviously a healthy and well-balanced diet that contributes to our overall health instead of one particular food. However, dark chocolate could provide us with some added health benefits. So next time you fancy a sweet treat why not enjoy some dark chocolate, knowing your gut bugs are enjoying it too!
Interested in finding out more? Read some top tips on eating well from Love Your Gut’s Dr Nick Read here.
- Ried, K., Sullivan, T., Fakler, P., Frank, O. R., & Stocks, N. P. (2010). Does chocolate reduce blood pressure? A meta-analysis. BMC medicine, 8, 39. https://doi.org/10.1186/1741-7015-8-39
- Ramos, S., Martín, M. A., & Goya, L. (2017). Effects of cocoa antioxidants in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Antioxidants, 6(4), 84. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox6040084
- Socci, V., Tempesta, D., Desideri, G., De Gennaro, L., & Ferrara, M. (2017). Enhancing Human Cognition with Cocoa Flavonoids. Frontiers in Nutrition, 4, 19. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2017.00019
- S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (2018). Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170273/nutrients
- Sorrenti, V., Ali, S., Mancin, L., Davinelli, S., Paoli, A., & Scapagnini, G. (2020). Cocoa polyphenols and gut microbiota interplay: Bioavailability, prebiotic effect, and impact on human health. Nutrients, 12(7), 1908. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12071908
- Cardona, F., Andrés-Lacueva, C., Tulipani, S., Tinahones, F. J., & Queipo-Ortuño, M. I. (2013). Benefits of polyphenols on gut microbiota and implications in human health. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 24(8), 1415–1422. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2013.05.001
- Ozdal, T., Sela, D. A., Xiao, J., Boyacioglu, D., Chen, F., & Capanoglu, E. (2016). The reciprocal interactions between polyphenols and gut microbiota and effects on bioaccessibility. Nutrients, 8(2), 78. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8020078
- Ma, G., & Chen, Y. (2020). Polyphenol supplementation benefits human health via gut microbiota: A systematic review via meta-analysis. Journal of Functional Foods, 66, 103829. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2020.103829